Tony Blair and John Howard say it’s nonsense. Jan Egeland, the UN’s Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, is “surprised” by the findings. But the nightly news shows can’t get enough.

Have at it, number-crunchers. Note that Baghdad appears to be relatively safe compared to other parts of the country.


More (Bryan): The Lancet study would have us believe that 2.5% of Iraq has been killed by the war in the past three years. It would have us believe that more Iraqis have died as a result of a mid-sized insurgency than Americans died in World War II. Or the Civil War. Or Germans, who died in World War II, fighting against the combined might of the USSR, the British Empire and the United States, at a time when Germany was reduced to conscripting young boys and old men to resist those armies as they approached Berlin.

This study, in other words, is nonsense on stilts.

And further, where are the bodies?

In science, extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof or evidence. The Lancet study offers neither. It was extrapolated from a handful of deaths in ways that, imho, don’t apply to unnatural causes like war. It’s nonsense.

Update: Omar at Iraq the Model responds to Lancet.

Update: Megan McArdle is skeptical:

The average report is of about 30 civilian casualties a day–a horrifying number that should sting the consciences of those who advocated war. I’m sure that there are more whose deaths go unreported. But assuming that violence is the major cause of death, how likely is it that the newspapers are all consistently underestimating the number of violent civilian deaths by a factor of five or more? Okay, maybe they’re all happening outside of Baghdad. Except outside of Baghdad includes the Kurdish north, where 10% of the population is mostly not getting shot by insurgents. And a lot of Iraq’s other towns outside of Baghdad aren’t that big. Bayji, a major oil centre, has 60,000 inhabitants. As anyone from a town that size can tell you, it wouldn’t go unnoticed if it was losing 1,600 people a year to murder.

Update: We’ve gotten a few trackbacks today from left-wing assholes asserting that we’re mindlessly dismissing the survey, even while they go about mindlessly asserting it’s accurate. Of course, we haven’t (or at least, I haven’t). In fact, my point yesterday in our post about this was that the methodology probably isn’t all that suspect, and whatever the actual numbers are, they’re far too many.

The Commissar is thinking along the same lines and has a post worth reading in full. Like me, he thinks the numbers are exaggerated, but not entirely. And he’s got a theory as to how — and why.

Update (Bryan): Forget what I said about German casualties in WWII. I had the numbers way wrong. But the rest still stands, and I think the Lancet study is extremely dubious.